Monday, May 26, 2014

Service and Sacrifice

I have always been an advocate for service - there is something about working, really working toward getting something accomplished that has always filled me with a sense of accomplishment. That idea probably drew me toward politics - someone who can learn a lot about a niche subject can accomplish a great deal at the lower levels of public policy. Political staffers thrive on accomplishing small objectives that are part of a larger strategy. I'm a duck in water from that standpoint.

Today we remember not those who served, but those who sacrificed their lives to protect our freedoms. I know many who have served in the military - friends, family and casual acquaintances. All those who I met after their service to our country had been completed or have always returned to us. As we pause to remember those who have sacrificed their lives for us, I came to realize today that I really don't know anyone or have any experience with anyone who has paid that price for us.

While you don't have to know someone who has made that sacrifice to honor them for doing that, I came to realize today that as we send friends and family off to be deployed there is always a chance that will be the last time we get a chance to do so. So this Memorial Day I don't just remember those who have sacrificed their lives for us, but those who have decided to put themselves on the line to rise above the call of service and answer the call of duty. These men and women truly represent what sacrifice is all about.

Before today I would have thought about the time I give over to service projects as a "sacrifice" on my part. I'll never make that mistake again. Thank you to all those who serve and those who have served. My eternal gratitude to those who paid the ultimate price protecting our freedoms.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Help from Experienced Indy 500 Folks

Nathan poses with Indy car racer Charlie Kimball during a visit to Fort Wayne's Lutheran Children's Hospital
I am very excited to be taking Nathan to our first Indianapolis 500 this year! Thanks to a friend who wasn't using his tickets we are going to have great seats to see all of the action.

Nathan follows Indy car racer Charlie Kimball. He's had the opportunity to meet Kimball several times during visits to Fort Wayne to meet with children with Type 1 Diabetes. Kimball himself is a Type 1 Diabetic and the last few years he has spent time with kids from the Fort Wayne area talking about disease management and demonstrating to them that there really isn't anything they can't do due to this disease. The picture to the right shows Nathan wearing Kimball's helmet while he looks on with Nathan's buddy Zach (also a Kimball fan).

Being our first time down there I'd love any tips or suggestions as to how we should spend the day. What will we be able to see, where should we go, how early should we get down there to do all of this? Any feedback would be very much appreciated!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Best (and Worst) Possible Outcome for My Favorite Team

One topic I don't blog about often but has become a real passion is soccer. As the world gears up for the World Cup, the league title races in different countries come to a conclusion. What is different from soccer around the world than professional sports in the United States is that teams can get promoted and relegated from different leagues.

To use a baseball analogy, if your local team plays AAA ball and is one of the top teams in the country at that level, they could take the place of the worst-performing teams in the major leagues. It is a system that creates excitement and fuels passion of fans supporting teams both at the top of the league trying to win the title as well as at the bottom of the league competing just to stay at the current level of competition (and the visibility and financial benefits that come along for the ride).

Last year my team, Queens Park Rangers, was relegated from the English Premier League (the equivalent of the major leagues) to the Football League Championship (the equivalent of a AAA minor league). The worst three teams from the top league move down, but only the top two teams from the Championship automatically move up to the Premier League.

The last team selected for promotion is decided between a playoff of the remaining top four teams that didn't get promoted automatically. While this scenario is certainly more tense than automatic promotion, the final of this playoff is played at Wembly Stadium, the cathedral of English soccer and the home stadium of their national team.

When it was decided that QPR would be relegated I said the only upside to playing in the Championship is that there's a chance they would get to play a match at Wembly. Monday afternoon QPR beat Wigan Athletic to secure their spot in the playoff a week from Saturday. I've embedded a video of the pandemonium that broke out at the end of the match.

My passion for soccer has started to rub off on the kids, and my daughter came to start following a team herself. Admittedly she started supporting Derby County because she was able to beat her brother on an old version of EA Sports FIFA (the Madden of world soccer games) when he was playing with his favorite team, Manchester United. Of course the team that QPR will be playing a week from Saturday is none other than Derby County.

We'll both be supporting our teams to win, of course. I'm sure that we won't come to blows, though I know we'll both be bitterly disappointed if our team doesn't pull through. As an American fan following Premier League teams is infinitely easier than following teams in the lower leagues - in fact if you have NBC Sports Network you can watch every Premier League match over the course of the year. But the highs and lows of the competition for one of these spots is really unmatched with anything I've experienced as a fan of American sports teams.